As part of an aggressive expansion plan for North America, German Doner Kebab USA (GDK USA) announced it has hired Robert Bray as operations director and Mark Treptow as director of franchise development, along with recent hires Georgina Cavendish, chief financial officer, and Darren Cooke as marketing director. GDK, with locations worldwide since 1989, is known for its fresh doner kebab menu, flavorful sauces made in-store, and toasted handmade waffle bread.  

Reporting to Nigel Belton, GDK North America’s managing director, Bray has more than 20 years of operations experience with YUM! Brands and was most recently senior regional franchise director at Church’s Chicken. Treptow has franchised multiple emerging restaurant concepts such as Five Guys Burgers, Freshii and The Halal Guys into large national and international brands. Recent UK transplant Cavendish joins from Island Poké — a division of GDK’s parent company Hero Brands — to support the brand and franchisees across North America. Cooke joins the team after international marketing roles for well-known brands that include Kroger, Virgin, Adidas, Starbucks, and Google. 

“As the global industry leader, GDK is revolutionizing the doner kebab experience, and we’re excited to bring our fresh, high-quality taste sensation to North Americans who are looking for an alternative to the burger and sandwich,” says Belton. “We’ve assembled a team of stellar executives with a wealth of food and beverage experience, and we’re excited to utilize their expertise to aid in our continued growth.” 

With global headquarters in Glasgow, Scotland, GDK, is focused on providing its customers with fresh, premium, quality ingredients at affordable prices. As the fastest growing fast-casual restaurant group in the UK, GDK has over 125 restaurants in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and is now rapidly expanding rapidly into the US and Canada. GDK opened its first US site in New Jersey’s American Dream Mall in 2021. In Canada, three locations are currently open; one in British Columbia and two in Ontario.

“It is exciting to have the opportunity to shape the creation of the processes, behaviors, and relationships with our franchisees to help GDK grow in North America,” adds Bray. “As we continue our quest to bring the doner kebab sensation to the people, I look forward to creating a guest experience that will keep them coming back again and again for our fresh food and great service.”

The North American operation has ambitious growth plans for the US as it gets set to open ten locations in 2022, including its first two in the Houston area, Sugar Land and Houston Heights, the company also announced. Clyde Foods has signed on as a multi-unit developer in Houston, an agreement that includes 15 restaurants over the next ten years and five locations open by 2025. In the Dallas area, a franchisee has signed a multi-unit deal to develop five restaurants in Dallas and its northern suburbs. 

GDK’s New York franchisee has signed a development agreement for 25 restaurants over 15 years, with six locations open by the end of 2022. These strategic sites include Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Astoria in Queens. In Canada, the search is on for additional sites in Mississauga, Ontario and Surrey, British Columbia.

Emerging Concepts, Fast Casual, Franchising, News